Your negative mind tricks won’t work on me, Writer!
So, a million writers out there– scrambling, dashing, lurching toward deadline. Everyone has a process. (I vainly shake my fist in the air at the writers who produce a book every year, nay! Two books a year! Clearly, they have an assistant like Ge Ge Ge no Nyobo!)
I go through weird psychological challenges when I’m meeting deadlines. The tighter the deadline, the weirder the psychological mind tricks become. Needless to say, it’s not pretty. But I also know that the weird anxiety thinking and momentary stasis is not necessarily an accurate and realistic assessment of my capacity and ability to write. The one truly important thing, however, is to be a finisher. Ideas for stories, scenes, pop up, a dime a dozen. It’s also easy to write the first little bit. But the hard part is grinding through, to the finish. This is when the writer has to pull on the boots, don the worker cap, roll up the sleeves, and resign herself to the long haul. It’s not glamorous. It may be painful. It may take a long, long time. But your great story idea will never be published in book form until you’ve finished it. When my children were pissing around with their time, instead of doing their homework, I would bellow, “Focus and Finish!”
This also applies to me, as a writer, during the editing stage. The irrational avoidance tactics (I need to tidy up my desk, first. I have to read something really good, so it inspires me. I need to go for a walk. The dirty dishes are bothering me– if I tidy that up I won’t be so distracted. I’ll wait until my heavy menstruation day is over. I’ll wait until I get an email that’s good, so I feel lucky. Etc.) can take up several days, even turn into weeks. The rational mind can perceive the illogical behaviour, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can stop it. And, I also know that the avoidance is also about fear. I fear the level and intensity of the work involved (it will take a lot out of me), and, fear that I might not be up to the work.
But then, I think, what if this stage is an important part of the process? Maybe it is? (At least for me.) Even as I’m going through this weird-ass turmoil, I think there’s something going on in the back of my subconscious. Because, all of a sudden, something switches, and BAM! I begin.
There are negative mind tricks that plague us often, but we can also play Positive Mind Tricks on ourselves! One thing that I do is I occasionally send email messages to myself. Hahahahahaaa! No, really! But you have to be accepting of it, and not make fun of the gesture. It’s like self love.
Sometimes, when I want a shortcut backup of the latest draft, I email it to myself. And, in the email, I write a message, as if I would write it to a dear friend who is meeting a deadline. I offer words of encouragement and tell myself I can do it, and that I’m doing a good job, and that I should be proud of the work I’ve done so far. I send the email at night, and turn off the computer. When I turn on the computer in the morning, it’s there. I open it and read it and I laugh, and, also, it makes me feel good.
This is a childish trick, but does it matter? It’s odd, but, all the negative thoughts one has, one would never say think or say these things to our writing friends. But why do we say them to ourselves?
I’ve rewritten the first five chapters of the manuscript. Feels good. Now, shifting to do detail work on hardcopy with red pen. Certain kinds of rewriting/editing, I need to do on paper. I need the ability to rifle between pages, sections, rather than being limited to the fixed screen image.
Good job, Hiromi! Keep it up! I’m proud of you…. ~__~